Chief of staff Kitchen, retired chief Hughes will run for mayor
By David Skolnick
The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary for mayor will have competition in the November general election.
DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/ secretary, and ex-Police Chief Jimmy Hughes confirmed they will run as independent candidates for mayor.
Kitchen will file his nominating petitions today while Hughes will do so either today or by Monday’s deadline for independent candidates to turn in the forms.
Kitchen, appointed to his current post in August 2011 by Mayor Charles Sammarone after serving as 2nd Ward councilman, said no other candidate running for mayor has his combination of experience as a city legislator and member of the city administration.
“I’ve not just been a witness to change, but have been involved in the hands-on implementation,” he said. “Who better to continue the success? I feel I’m in the best position to lead the city.”
Kitchen has served as Sammarone’s point-of-contact on demolition and on the federal Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative, designed to give struggling cities needed resources to spur economic growth and operational efficiencies.
While Kitchen is a longtime Democrat, he chose to run as an independent.
“It was more strategic to run as an independent,” he said. “I didn’t want to saturate the primary.”
The Democratic primary candidates are John A. McNally IV, a former Mahoning County commissioner and city law director, Council President Jamael Tito Brown and Matthew Smith.
Brown and Kitchen are longtime friends. Kitchen said he would definitely stay in the race even if Brown won the Democratic primary.
The mayoral seat is open with Sammarone, appointed to the job in August 2011 when then-Mayor Jay Williams resigned, is running as the Democratic nominee for council president, a position he’s held for 17 years.
Hughes, who retired as police chief in 2011 after 35 years on the force, told The Vindicator in February that he would run as an independent after initially filing for the seat as a Democrat and withdrawing before the certification deadline.
“I think I’m the best candidate,” he said Thursday. “I’m all about the city. I attended city schools and Youngstown State University. I live in the neighborhoods. It’s not easy to go from the projects to every rank in the Youngstown Police Department all the way up to chief. I had options to leave, and I did not take them. All I ever did was for the city.”
Hughes, who unsuccessfully ran for county sheriff in last year’s Democratic primary, described himself as “the only nonpolitician in this race.”
The former police chief said a key issue in the race is safer neighborhoods, and if elected, “I guarantee safer neighborhoods.”
Also, Frank Bellamy, who lost the 2009 Democratic primary to Williams, and John M. Crea filed Thursday as independent mayoral candidates.
Others may also file by Monday’s deadline.